Archbishop Admits Church’s Mistake in Supporting Reparative Therapy

Malta’s top bishop acknowledged church leaders were mistaken when they released a controversial position paper designed to oppose a bill which seeks to make reparative therapy outlawed in the island nation.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta said he “would not have simply released a position paper” about the reparative therapy bill knowing what he knows now.

The bill, entitled the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Act, seeks a “ban

Source: Archbishop Admits Church’s Mistake in Supporting Reparative Therapy | Bondings 2.0

Malta Archbishop wants to build bridges with gay community

A year after his appointment to lead the Catholic Church in Malta, Archbishop Charles Scicluna gave a wide-ranging interview to the Times of Malta. The following excerpt, dealing with the Church’s response to government proposals on gay conversion therapy, are of particular importance for lesbian and gay Catholics.

Did the Church commit a faux pas when expressing reservations about the gay conversion therapy Bill?

If I had to go back I would not have simply released a position paper, on such an emotional issue, done by an extraordinary team of experts, without a statement that is less technical and more pastoral.

The experience has taught me it is not enough, when discussing a Bill, to contribute to the debate only with the help of experts. You also need to factor in the impact on people’s emotions and the perception the document may create.

Did you make the conversion therapy document yours?

I approved the document for publication but it is not my document. It is the document of the Church in Malta but it is the responsibility of the signatories. I approved publication because we need to contribute to the discussion. But I feel I have to build bridges with the gay community who felt our language was too technical, too cold and too distant.

I want to reassure them that we are dead set against conversion therapy because we believe, as they do, as government does, that it goes against human dignity.

We do not subscribe to beliefs that describe gay people as sick.

These are labels that demean them. And certainly we are not going to associate gay people with paedophilia.

What the Prime Minister said in a very emotional speech last Sunday finds me in total agreement with him. I agree with him when he says he will not accept anybody calling a gay person sick. I agree with the Prime Minister when he says he will not allow anybody to call gay people paedophiles. But I would not say the experts implied any of this or that they tried to drag the nation into the dark ages with their contribution.

Fundamental to the position paper is that conversion therapy might be OK if the person is a consenting adult. The argument should have been that conversion therapy, whether wanted or forced, is wrong.

Claire Axiak [a psychiatrist who wrote that conversion therapy was wrong and harmed people irrespective if an adult asked for it] writing in the Times of Malta [last Friday] made a very strong argument that conversion therapy harms a person. This is something experts have to tell me. I entrusted the study to the experts. What I would ask the government is that human dignity be respected and if experts say conversion therapy is totally harmful then we should avoid it.

I have asked what the meaning of sexual orientation is because anthropologist Ranier Fsadni [writing in the Times of Malta last Thursday] made the point whether sexual orientation also included paraphilias – conditions like paedophilia. Experts have told me sexual orientation does not include paraphilias and so any talk of illness makes no sense. My appeal to the community at large is that this is an important law and the issues must be debated with an open mind.

Was it a mistake not to have somebody from the gay community on the expert panel?

It would have helped immensely to include people from Drachma in the preparation of the position paper because they have contributed in other papers and their contribution has been precious. When I asked Professor [Emanuel] Agius [who formed part of the panel of experts], he said that was something we could have done and we should have done, as was the case with another position paper we presented recently.


Malta: Catholic bishop slams homophobic letter that denounces the idea of same-sex love

Malta’s Auxiliary Bishop, Charles Scicluna, has stepped in to condemn a provocative letter written by zealous Catholic churchgoer Joe Zammit who claims there can only be lust and not love between gay people.


Bishop Scicluna told the Sunday Times of Malta: “Joe Zammit has managed to do a great disservice to the Catholic ethos by presenting a caricature of the Church’s teaching on gay relationships.”

Mr Zammit, a devoted Catholic from Paola in Malta, wrote a series of letters in the Times of Malta with offensive statements distinguishing between love and lust in same-sex relationships.

His most recent letter, published on Valentine’s Day stated: “On the spiritual level, homosexual acts are against God’s loving law for us. On the natural level, they go against nature’s intrinsic purpose of all its sexual organs.”

Bishop Scicluna felt compelled to step in and dismissed Mr Zammit’s comments saying his opinion “does not represent the teachings of the Church”.

Placing the emphasis on the word “chaste” he said: “The fact is that gay people are called to chaste love as any other person, whether married or single.”

Bishop Scicluna maintained that “Gay people are not called to marriage which is the permanent union between one man and one woman open to the gift of parenthood,” but then added, “they are indeed called to chaste friendship and chaste friendship is chaste love.”

“To say, as Mr Zammit keeps harping, that ‘there can never be love but only lust between homosexuals’ is to deny the truth of what the Church teaches.”

In August, the Malta Gay Rights Movement expressed disappointment at a bill to regulate cohabiting couples, which had just been launched in the country.

Earlier in 2012, the Maltese Parliament did extend its hate crime laws for the first time to protect citizens on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Malta extends hate crime laws to include gays

Campaigners welcome passing of new bill which sends ‘strong message’ to society about LGBT rights

Grandmaster's Palace in Maltese capital Valetta - site of House of Representatives

Malta has passed new legislation which extends hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in the country’s history.

The bill, which was approved in parliament last night, was first proposed during a protest following the attack of two young lesbians earlier this year.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) has welcomed the new bill, saying it sent a ‘strong message’ to society that crimes against LGBT people are ‘unacceptable and will incur tougher penalties’.

Speaking about the violent homophobic asssaults which rocked Malta in January and February 2012, a spokesman for the group said: ‘The courage of these young people to report the crime played an important role in providing the required impetus to move forward with this legislative proposal which had been on MGRM’s agenda for a number of years.

‘The next step is ensuring that police are adequately trained in dealing with such crimes and in actively reaching out to the LGBT community to ensure that victims feel safe to come forward and report such incidents. Adequate data collection is also essential.’

A second bill which will extend the remit of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity is expected to be passed this week.

It will allow the Commission to act as mediator and to investigate allegations of discrimination in employment.

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Support for gay marriage growing in Malta

Gay marriage is supported by the majority of young people in Malta, a survey has revealed.

The poll by the MaltaToday news website, found that 60% of 18 to 34 year olds were in favor of same-sex marriage.

However, only 23% of over 55s agreed and overall 51.2% of those questioned were in opposition.

But despite less than half of people supporting gay marriage (41%), Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the Malta Gay Rights Movemen, said the survey’s results were ‘good news’.

Gay Star News

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